That Time NASAWatch Scooped The Water On Mars Story

Making a Splash With a Hint of Mars Water, Science 30 June 2000

"It began as a whisper on the Web a week ago Monday evening, grew to a noisy torrent of media babble by Wednesday, and on Thursday morning crashed onto the front pages. Moving at the light-speed pace of modern media, a wave of chatter about water and therefore possible life on Mars swept a paper at Science into headline news a week before its scheduled publication. ....

.... Opening the press conference, planetary geologist Michael Malin of Malin Space Science Systems Inc. (MSSS) in San Diego warned that "the actual science may pale before the science fiction that has been written." The fiction grew out of an accurate, if vague, item on the independent watchdog Web site, NASA Watch (http://www.nasawatch.com/), late afternoon on 19 June. It reported, apparently from sources in the astrobiology community, that NASA had briefed the White House (presidential science adviser Neal Lane, as it turned out) on a major discovery involving water on Mars. Other Web sites added details through Tuesday, 20 June; USA Today put a Web-sourced story at the top of its front page Wednesday morning. The information gleaned anonymously from NASA headquarters personnel and researchers around the country ranged from on target--signs of recent spring activity--to unlikely: ponds and even the possibility of geysers. Although no reporters appeared to have seen the paper (by Malin and his MSSS colleague Kenneth Edgett), Science decided to stem the flow of misinformation by releasing it."

Keith's note: I almost forgot about this little scoop that was on NASAWatch on 19 June 2000. It caused quite a stir and a media feeding frenzy. Those older pages from NASAWatch are sitting on a Zip Drive somewhere. But Science magazine - which rushed the scientific article to publication - chronicled the scoop.

Here's the article "Evidence for Recent Groundwater Seepage and Surface Runoff on Mars", Science

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on June 22, 2020 4:53 PM.

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